Human Towers at the Sagrada Familia

The “Festa Mayor de la Sagrada Familia” (festival of the Sagrada Familia district) started this weekend. The festival lasts from the 19th of April until the 6th of May and kicked off with a display of human towers called castells in front of the Sagrada Familia Basilica.

A group of castellers form a human tower in front of the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Barcelona

A group of castellers form a human tower in front of the Sagrada Familia Basilica

Castells are built by teams called colles who perform at festivals and competitions throughout the year. The tower is made up of layers, the first of which is called the pinya and is both the tower’s base and a kind of human safety net. Subsequent layers then clamber up over each other until finally a small girl (called la enxaneta) climbs up to top the tower. Castells are normally between 5 and 8 layers high.

It all sounds incredibly dangerous, but the teams are well coordinated so that even when a tower collapses it happens in a controlled manner. Even so, it can be pretty nerve wracking when you see a tower start to tremble as the castellers fight to maintain their balance.

Castellers del Poble Sec (Barcelona)

Castellers del Poble Sec (Barcelona)

This weekend there were four colles from Sagrada Familia, Poble Sec, Granollers and Terrassa. Between them they performed a total of 12 towers of different configurations. Most had 7 layers with between two and five people per layer. The first tower was unusual because it was pushed up from the base.  There was one worrying moment when a tower collapsed. But, as far as I could see, no-one got seriously hurt.

Xics de Granollers

The Xics de Granollers

Castellers de la Sagrada Familia

Castellers de la Sagrada Familia

The Minyons de Terrassa

The Minyons de Terrassa

The base of a Castell human tower

The base of a Castell tower

If you are interested in seeing castells in Barcelona I suggest you check these webs for further information:

Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya

Castellers de la Sagrada Familia

Castellers de Barcelona

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4 thoughts on “Human Towers at the Sagrada Familia

  1. beatriz

    Hi Richard, I read right now your post. Thank you for your comments about castellers, a very important tradition in Catalonia “unknown” arround the world as it should do…. Trying to do the best for this situation, I created a new experience “a castellers backstage access” where guest can enjoy a castellers rehearsal on their venues. If you are interesting, visit : http://www.gobeyondbarcelona.com or on Facebook (where are very interesting information about all the castellers world) you can also share it ;-)
    Hope you will enjoy ! Have a nice day and be fresh, there is a warm weather those days in Bcn!! Best wishes,
    Beatriz

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Beatriz,

      Thanks for stopping by and for pointing out your website…. What a great idea!!

      I’d be interested to know more about exactly what’s on offer in the Castellers Backstage Access package, do you get to be part of a tower?

      Reply
  2. anirac

    hi,

    nice web :-) only a small correction if I may do it…the child in the top is called “enxaneta”, the enxaneta could be a boy or a girl, but usually are girls because they are more light and girls usually concetrate better…”canalla” is a catalan world that can be traslated as “children”, in casteller’s argot it’s refers to the 3 last layers of a castell: the “dosos”, the “acotxador” and the “enxaneta”.
    (love the article about la vampiressa del Raval, it’s a little know story )

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Anirac,

      Thanks for your comment and for taking time to point out the error, I’ve updated the post accordingly.

      I’m glad you like my blog, I found out about The Vampire of the Raval totally by chance while researching a different article a few months ago and thought it would be an ideal post for Halloween!

      Reply

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